Stop Busting Your Food Budget!

By Selena Garrison, MS, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Reviewed by Gayle Whitworth, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, University of Florida Extension, Brevard County

Have you ever taken a look at your spending for the month and wondered how on earth you spent so much money on food?

With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it can be so easy to grab a bite to eat here, get a latte there, have lunch with our coworkers…and before we know it, we’ve spent more money than we ever intended. The good news is that with a little pre-planning and a few savvy skills, you can cut down on the amount you spend on food and save that money for other things.

Cut Back on Eating Out
If you love to eat out or just do it for convenience, you’ll really notice these costs when you start tracking your expenses. This is an obvious area to cut when trying to rein in your budget, but it might not be easy at first.

It can help to establish a goal: first, figure out how much money you have available to spend on food each month, including food prepared at home and when eating out. Money can be saved by preparing your work lunches ahead of time, packing snacks for the office, or planning out your dinners for the week so that you will be prepared with all the ingredients ahead of time. If you still have money left in your food budget at the end of the month, you can save it or spend it to go out, guilt-free.

It may seem hard to get used to these changes in the beginning, but once you’re accustomed to your new routine, eating out will feel like a real treat instead of an everyday money waster. As an added bonus, you may learn to cook some new things and actually come to enjoy trying new recipes!

Plan Your Grocery List Around BOGO Items
Shopping BOGO (buy one, get one free) can save you a lot of money. Get the weekly circulars from the grocery stores near your home and plan your shopping list around the items that are buy one, get one free. The meat department usually provides the biggest savings on BOGO items. Whenever meat you like is BOGO (which can be almost every week), stock up. (Some families may want to invest in a deep freezer; however, consider the cost of running this appliance, especially in Florida.) Just make sure that the BOGO price is not higher than the price you would normally pay – sometimes stores can be tricky!

Other items families use all the time (like bread, pasta, pasta sauce, toilet paper, tea, cheese, etc.) tend to be on a BOGO rotation, so you can stock up whenever they are on sale. Then just buy the other things you really need, like milk and produce. The important thing is that you don’t buy items you don’t use or won’t eat just because they’re on BOGO.

Use Coupons
While some can take couponing to an extreme, coupons really can save a lot of money on things you are already planning to buy. Couponing doesn’t have to take you a lot of time, but it does give you a big return. There are many places you can search for manufacturers’ coupons, including the Sunday paper, online coupon websites, and even various apps for your phone. In addition, many grocery stores have their own coupons, which can be found either in-store on online. Having a coupon that coincides with a BOGO offer can help reduce your costs even further. Better still, most grocery stores will also accept a manufacturer’s coupon on top of their store coupon (commonly referred to as “stacking”), so keep an eye out for coupons that coincide with ones you found in the paper. You may even consider taking a couponing class to get the most bang for your buck!

With all of the expenses we incur each month, it is important to have as much control as possible in your budget. Food is one area where you can really take chargevvand see a big difference in your spending. By saving on food, you can use that “extra” money to save, pay off debt, or reach other financial goals.

(Photo credit: Thanksgiving Supplies by Phil!Gold. CC BY 2.0. Cropped.)


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Posted: October 6, 2014

Category: Money Matters, Work & Life
Tags: Budgeting, Family Resource Management, Personal And Family Finances


December 10, 2019

I love using a bread machine, too! Thanks for the recipe, it's great finding something new to experiment with. I mostly use the basic cycle because I love basic white bread but, from time to time, it's nice trying something new.

March 20, 2017

Very interesting information, thank u grosir obat herbal

Carol Church

November 17, 2014

This recipe is amazing and delicious and you don't have to knead it. You can sub in whole wheat flour for about 50% of the flour, but may need to add more water, and the loaf will be flatter. The long rise and high water content give it amazing flavor and texture. I also use this recipe, which makes two loaves and is sort of similar, but not the same. Again, you can sub in whole wheat flour for about 50%. I also like to add sesame seeds. I make this one in traditional loaf pans with a silicone liner (otherwise it will stick) so it can be used for sandwiches more easily. I used to make this recipe every week but haven't been getting around to it lately.

Donna Stoddard
November 11, 2014

I am sharing this blog with all of my students' families. Beautifully written!

October 15, 2014

I've never seen meat on BOGO! I've seen sales on cost per pound, but how do they provide them as BOGO? Would like more information about this as that would be a tremendous savings and a do have a freezer.

Carol Church

October 15, 2014

And then there's the snack provided to the kids after the game! (I can go for fruit and water, but that is not what tends to be provided) Fortunately, the stand turns out to be not that visible to the kids...they didn't notice it, at least this first time.

October 15, 2014

Thanks for sharing this Carol. Those concession stands were always a concern for me, as a nutritionist and mom interested in healthy eating for my family. We almost never bought anything, which made me feel a bit guilty that I was not supporting the team, but I figured that our health was more important than a few dollars for the team. Not only do those foods provide more fat, sodium, and/or added sugars than most people need, they tend to fill you up so that you may not eat a healthy dinner after the game. Of course, that was the other annoying part of soccer games ... the team always wanted to stop at McDonald's after the game! Oh my ...

Carol Church

October 10, 2014

Hi Selina, You may be looking for a point of contact with the UF FYCS department? I will send you an email with the appropriate info. :)

Selina Lee
October 10, 2014

Hi, We need you in the community for purpose of educating youth on your resources. Is this the source of contact to participate in an upcoming event. Please reply at e-mail if so. Agriculture Dept has participated in a previous event with our organization. Thanks so much for the plethora of info that comes from your letters. we appreciate you. Selina Lee

Carol Church

October 9, 2014

My family is totally converted to no-cook overnight oatmeal, whch we had never tried before this post! My daughter loves banana-peanut butter with a tiny bit of chopped dark chocolate, and my son likes apple-cinnamon. I am not a morning person, so I love that I can make it the night before!!

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September 25, 2014

I appreciate and agree with your comments, Kevin. Martial Arts are a special way to develop special talents that have gone by the wayside because we are too busy to slow down and realize that past practices, in many instances, still work well in our modern society -- especially with youth.

Kevin Folta
September 25, 2014

You raise a nice set of points there and maybe I can help expand them. I've studied for a long time, and one thing that is earned in training is a sense of community developing from common goals and collective perseverance. It is struggling together. It is setting unattainable goals, but then getting to them. "Special training" sessions are weekends of intense training that is awful. But you survive it and come out stronger. Nobody is a star. We're reminded that we can always do better and strive for perfection. You are always a student and learning, even when you're teaching. Those are some of the best lessons that can be learned and why kids should be involved in martial arts.

September 17, 2014

These are great suggestions. Wish I had time to try more of them than I will be able to try! Thanks for putting these together in one place ... great resource.

Linda Bobroff
September 8, 2014

Yes, a lot of people seem to like those flavored waters and sparkling waters. Call me a seltzer purist! Sometimes I do mix seltzer with orange juice or grape juice for a sparkly drink, so I'm not "pure" all the time ...


September 5, 2014

I find that if I carry a refillable water bottle with me I drink more during the day. I also prefer lemon sparkling water, with natural flavors. No calories, no sugar, no fat yet I get the bubbles!

Linda Bobroff
September 4, 2014

I'm actually not a big fan of water either, but I really enjoy seltzer, so that is my beverage of choice for hydration. You might try that and see if it works for you. No calories, no sugar ... great choice for thirst quenching.

September 4, 2014

It should be easy for me to drink more water, but somehow I don't. Thanks for the inspiration.

Linda Bobroff
September 3, 2014

This is a great blog post -- really enjoyed reading about this research and the fact that it demonstrated what I have long thought about this amazing book series -- that it has extremely positive messages and much to teach young people (and adults as well). One only has to be concerned about those readers who relate more to Malfoy or Voldemort than to Harry and his buddies ...

August 28, 2014

Howdy! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

جريل تيفال
August 26, 2014

Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

Michael Gutter
August 11, 2014

Excellent! We found some deals from online websites as well. This did require us to order two weeks ago or else we would not have had it arrive in time...

Carol Church

August 11, 2014

Just did my family's back to school shopping--I was able to find a $10 off coupon using a couponing app! :)

Karla Shelnutt
August 5, 2014

Good catch! Hopefully readers will still focus on the bottom line of this blog that suggests that consumers should be aware that many so-called super foods do not have super powers.

Cory Albrech
July 31, 2014

"Antioxidants protect your cells from damage and can boost your immune system." Umm, no. Nothing "boots your immune system", that's just one of those nonsense phrases from the alt-med & supplements community who think scientifical language legitimizes their claim. You're right to be wary of "superfood" claims, but also beware of false concepts like immune system boosting.

April 15, 2014

good article, thanks for information

Linda Bobroff
March 25, 2014

Getting a diagnosis is so important so that people can either make changes to reduce their risk of diabetes or begin to manage the disease if they already have it. In either case, lifestyle management can make a big difference in quality of life and long-term health. Thanks for the information about the on-line Diabetes Risk Test -- hopefully many people will take advantage of it.

March 25, 2014

Hey! AWESOME!! Thanks for the great info!!


March 20, 2014

Great addition. It is important that we check charges in bank statement, credit card statements, utilities, everything. Being a good consumer truly takes action on our part.

March 19, 2014

Good post. You mentioned here: "Be alert for bills, mail, or account statements that don’t arrive on time". To add to this, many people do not check their bank statements often enough to catch fraudulent activity in a timely manner. It is always a good thing to be mindful of the charges debiting an account and not take for granted that all charges are going to be legit.

March 1, 2014

This is great especially for people like me that needs financial help and assistance. I'll for sure share this to my friends. Thank you ecourtney. :)

Michael Gutter
February 13, 2014

Well said, I too have a growing collection of art projects and cards from my kids. I treasure these. In fact my wife still has a poem I wrote for her while we were dating in graduate school. She eventually had it mounted onto a plaque several years after we were married.

Linda Bobroff
February 12, 2014

This is a good reminder about what is really important on this holiday. It made me think about all of those cards I made for my parents when I was in elementary school know the ones with red paper and doilies! My mom kept those thoughtful (and cheap) cards for years and I too have some that my son made for me. Guess it is the thought that counts (although chocolate is really fun to get too, I must admit ...)!

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